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Monday, April 04, 2011

How a state becomes a member of the UN

From the UN website:
The recognition of a new State or Government is an act that only other States and Governments may grant or withhold. It generally implies readiness to assume diplomatic relations. The United Nations is neither a State nor a Government, and therefore does not possess any authority to recognize either a State or a Government. As an organization of independent States, it may admit a new State to its membership or accept the credentials of the representatives of a new Government.

Membership in the Organization, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, “is open to all peace-loving States which accept the obligations contained in the [United Nations Charter] and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able to carry out these obligations”. States are admitted to membership in the United Nations by decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council. The procedure is briefly as follows:
  1. The State submits an application to the Secretary-General and a letter formally stating that it accepts the obligations under the Charter.
  2. The Security Council considers the application. Any recommendation for admission must receive the affirmative votes of 9 of the 15 members of the Council, provided that none of its five permanent members — China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America — have voted against the application.
  3. If the Council recommends admission, the recommendation is presented to the General Assembly for consideration. A two-thirds majority vote is necessary in the Assembly for admission of a new State.
  4. Membership becomes effective the date the resolution for admission is adopted.
If I am reading this right, then the kerfuffle over the General Assembly recognizing "Palestine" in September is not as big an issue as it is being presented. (The NYT's article today that claimed otherwiset has issued a correction.)

Obviously, a GA vote that symbolically recognizes "Palestine" would increase pressure on Israel, but unless the US chooses to support a unilateral Palestinian Arab state, it will not exist based on the GA's say-so.

And the US doesn't even have to veto the application - it only has to vote "no," which even the UK might consider doing as well, especially since Hamas will almost certainly still be ruling Gaza in September which means that "Palestine" cannot be said by any definition to be a "peace-loving state" which is a pre-requisite for membership.

UPDATE: Apparently, a "no" vote by any permanent member is a veto all the time in the Security Council. (h/t deegee)